CORVALLIS, Ore. — The 4-H Wildlife Stewards Program of the Oregon State University Extension Service has been selected to receive the inaugural 2008 Fish and Wildlife Service—4H Natural Resources Conservation Award from the national 4-H organization.
The OSU Extension Service 4-H Wildlife Stewards program is the first to be recognized with this award. "The 4-H Wildlife Stewards program exemplifies the objectives of this award, which recognizes outstanding 4-H programming in wildlife conservation and environmental education areas," said Cathann Kress, director of National 4-H headquarters.
"We are pleased that a program of this caliber will receive this award," Kress said. "The development, implementation and evaluation of this outstanding education program demonstrate sound stewardship of fish and wildlife resources."
The 4-H Wildlife Stewards Program has helped establish and maintain habitat education sites on the grounds of 54 schools in 19 Oregon counties over the last 10 years, according to coordinator Maureen Hosty. "Our volunteers are trained to use these outdoor laboratories to enhance learning and give students actual experiences in science, wildlife and natural resource conservation," she said.
These natural areas, which grace once-stark school grounds, are home to native plants and woodlands, flowers, garden ponds, butterfly gardens, nesting boxes, nurseries and other habitat amenities.
The 4-H Wildlife Stewards program engages students in grades kindergarten through high school. Adult stewards volunteer for a minimum of 50 hours of service and receive 25–30 hours of training. "The volunteers, and the students and teachers they work with, do a wonderful job of improving our environment and helping young people become good stewards of our natural heritage," Hosty said.
The recognition consists of a $5,000 cash award and travel for five representatives of 4-H Wildlife Stewards to attend an awards reception March 26 at the 73rd North American Wildlife and Natural Resource Conference, sponsored by the Wildlife Management Institute, in Phoenix, Ariz.
The award represents a partnership between National 4-H Headquarters, Cooperative Research, Education and Extension Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Fish and Wildlife Services, U.S. Department of the Interior.
For more information about the 4-H Wildlife Stewards program, visit the Web site.